On June 16 David Blumenthal, the President's National Coordinator of Health IT, will call the second meeting of its Advisers Committee together, and try to get them on board with his definition of "meaningful use," which systems must meet to be eligible for $19 billion in HITECH funding.
I wrote last month that a compromise is expected between the idea of industry controlling the funds through its CCHIT certification group, and a simpler criteria under which Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems can be built using modular parts.
Since then reformers like
Brian KlepperScott Silvertein have grown despondent. Quoting a Washington Post story about the efforts of CCHIT and HIMSS, the industry group which created it, to control certification, he wrote last week:
Now those funds will probably favor outdated, non-interoperable, client-server technologies from a small number of legacy IT companies. Newer, more effective, less costly web-based tools from hundreds of innovative firms will likely have to base their success on market appeal, without the government's help.
Klepper Silverstein was especially exercised about an effort in New Jersey to require CCHIT certification on all new health IT gear in that state, not just gear eligible for HITECH funding.
CCHIT head Mark Leavitt responded to
Klepper's trhe post, and Klepper, who writes at the Health Care Renewal blog under the pen name MedInformatics MD, incorporated it in his post. Leavitt's e-mail denied his group was behind the effort to control certification on behalf of incumbents, then claimed Klepper'sSilvertein's ire is due to his failure to be hired by vendor NextGen in 2004.
What that reads like to me is a non-denial denial. We'd never lobby to control health IT, but you're just a disgruntled office seeker and so have no standing. I suppose he'd call me just a general assignment reporter with no special expertise (guilty), perhaps just an angry blogger (sometimes I am).
But the result of Leavitt's dismissal is to write-out all criticism of industry efforts to keep health IT mired in 1970s thinking, approving only the use of systems rather than modules, and rejecting all computing progress since, such as open source, open standards and plug and play.
Anyone with in-depth knowledge will have been involved with vendors at one point, and anyone else can be dismissed as a crank.
Leavitt will be holding a town call with vendors tomorrow afternoon to "focus on concerns regarding certification of applications licensed under open-source models," writes Health Imaging, and a second call the following day to sell the industry's position to the public.
My hope is that the second call will be an all-on attack on Blumenthal, because he has to show his hand on meaningful use tomorrow, and if that definition makes Leavitt happy it's bound to make reformers unhappy.